West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund, (second from left), along with Coun Bryden Winsby, Mayor Doug Findlater, Coun. Carol Zanon and Coun. Rick de Jong learn about the new fire danger monitoring station in the hills above Rose Valley from a member of the B.C. Wildfire Service. —Image: contributed

West Kelowna Fire Rescue’s new weapon for fighting forest fires

Fire danger monitoring station operating in hills above Rose Valley

West Kelowna has added a new tool in its effort to prevent forest fires.

Members of West Kelowna city council recently got their first look at the city’s new fire danger monitoring station, located in the hills above Rose Valley.

According to the Westside Fire Rescue, the station provides accurate weather information and was strategically-placed on a south-facing slope to give fire fighters the most accurate, West Kelowna-specific weather information.

The station was installed and commissioned during the 2017 fire season and provides hourly reports on temperature, relative humidity, precipitation and wind speed and direction. Fire danger class ratings are established through these readings.

Related story: Late night West Kelowna wildland fire

Before this station was installed, West Kelowna Fire Rescue had to rely on information from the Fintry or Penticton weather stations, which was not always an accurate for West Kelowna. As an example, the city says on the day council members visited the facility, the weather station in Fintry indicated a fire danger rating of three, or moderate, while West Kelowna’s rating was four, or high.

The station is a joint project between fire department and the B.C. Wildfire Service, which operates approximately 260 weather stations across the province. The city contributed $28,000 for the purchase and installation of the station and maintains it at an annual cost of $1,250.

West Kelowna Fire Rescue is also reminding residents and visitors to be extremely cautious when visiting forested areas in the community and if they see fire or smoke, to call 9-1-1.

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The fire danger monitoring station in the hills above Wet Kelowna’s Rose Valley. —Image: contributed

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